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What I learnt about sexting and modern slavery

Posted: Wednesday 7th August 2013
Blog: Blogs

A Police Commissioner’s job is very varied and you never quite know what each week is going to bring.  Lately two concerns have been brought to my attention by different organisations one is the danger and damage of sexting, the second is human trafficking or modern slavery as it’s often called.

In a recent update meeting with the Principal of City of Bristol College we discussed a variety of issues, one of which covered the impact of social media, including texting. We agreed the digital age offers huge positive potential, but unfortunately it sometimes leads to instances where young people share sexual images or texts, which they later regret, and this can lead to bullying and harassment or even the images appearing on internet child sexual exploitation sites.  It is terrifying to consider what potential risks our young people face in the digital age, but we know that young people have a great understanding of the digital world and can help us with the solutions.

Whilst we may have all done silly things in our youth, it was not recorded like it is now and can come back to bite us at any time. Once the “send” button is pushed you are no longer in control – everyone else is.

This is why Bristol City Council, the police and my office launched a series of awareness raising adverts and advice cards to young people and parents. Raising awareness of this issue is part of my Police and Crime Plan. My next step is talking to the young people about their experiences and how we can help them understand the potential dangers. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has some excellent online safety advice visit ceop.police.uk

Another issue I have been finding more about is modern slavery. I met with Bristol based charity Unseen UK and opened an anti-trafficking partnership conference recently. The conference supported by Unseen UK was about raising awareness amongst frontline staff about the signs to look out for and what to do if they suspect someone has been trafficked. Human trafficking is the recruitment and movement of people by means such as violent force, coercion or deception with the aim of exploiting them.

This is a real issue and one that is easy to think doesn’t relate to living here in Bristol - but it does. There is a lot more intelligence and research lately which suggest this is an emerging issue. Over 1,100 people were trafficked into the UK last year according to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). I have written to partners such as council leaders and prosecutors to raise the recommendations from a recent Centre for Social Justice Report.  I would encourage anyone that wants to find out more about this issue to visit www.unseenuk.org there is plenty of information on their website and ways you can help their work to support survivors of modern slavery.

I was at the Harbour Festival speaking to people about the police budget and enjoying the festivities and sunshine…well until the rain came! The Harbour Festival is the first event where we talked to over 200 people who gave us their views on - “How much would you be prepared to pay towards policing next year?” This is a question I am wrestling with daily but is helped by listening to you and hearing your views. I will be at the Balloon Fiesta this weekend and at Minehead Festival next week. My team will be at the Islamic Cultural Fayre in Eastville Park on the Bank Holiday weekend and at Frome Cheese Show and Bridgwater Fair after that.

You can also have your say about the police budget online.

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